I am so excited that I can finally tell you this news!
Six months ago, the Foundation began speaking with the National Cancer Institute about a possible collaboration with the Love/Avon Army of Women. Now, after many meetings and memos, I am beyond thrilled to let you know that this new partnership will indeed be moving forward! Here’s the story:
In 2004, the National Cancer Institute launched an initiative called the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) to help advance cancer research. Some people have referred to caBIG as the “worldwide web of cancer research” and that truly is a great way to describe what it is and what it aims to do: it’s an information network that will speed up the pace of cancer research by providing a virtual home where investigators can collect, analyze, and share data.
I hadn’t given too much thought to how the Foundation could work with caBIG until we launched the Love/Avon Army of Womenâ€”and then I had a brainstorm (well two):
Never before have epidemiologists had access to one million women interested in breast cancer research. What if we had a health survey our Army of Women members could fill out that epidemiologists could use to learn more about who develops breast cancer? And what if the data collected from studies that use our Army of Women was linked to caBIG so that it could be pooled together in ways that would allow researchers to share data from different research studies? Well, long story, short: We went to the NCI to share our ideas and the director of caBIG, Dr. Ken Buetow, not only thought they were great but found ways to make them even better! And now, a new partnership has been born.
Dr. Buetow and I produced a special NCI podcast about our new collaboration. You can read the transcript and learn more about the next step we are taking to unite women and researchers here.
Most importantly, this partnership will mean every woman who enrolls in the Army of Women will be able to take part in a study. Our new study, which will be called Health of Women (HOW), will be open to all women who enroll in the Army of Women and who want to be part of the first-ever online longitudinal study to address the causes and prevention of breast cancer.
The NCI is so excited about this new collaboration that its director, Dr. John E. Niederhuber, wrote about it in a recent NCI Cancer Bulletin. You can read his piece here.
I’ll let you know when we are set to officially launch HOW. But in the interim, I really need you to help me build our Army of Women. Already 300,000 women have joined, but we need to think BIG and get a million women to sign up so that we can show all those breast cancer researchers how serious we are when we say we want to find out what causes this disease NOW!